Learning English - Words in the News
29 April, 2005 - Published 12:09 GMT
UN diamond investigation in Liberia
The UN are investigating diamond mining in Liberia and the possibility that diamonds are being exported illegally, because they think the profits are used to buy weapons. This report from World Affairs correspondent Mark Doyle:
I flew at a height of about two hundred feet, almost brushing the top of the jungle canopy, in search of diamond mines. Although exploring for diamonds is not technically illegal here, UN investigators have concerns that Liberian diamonds may be exported in violation of a Security Council ban aimed at stopping gemstone revenue being used to purchase weapons.
The UN investigator I flew with, Caspar Fithen, identified several active mines. Some were small-scale, not much more than holes by the sides of rivers. But other mines were much larger operations. At these, we saw mining pits, mechanical diggers and dozens of miners. Some of the miners tried to hide when they saw the white UN plane we were in; others looked unconcerned. For legal reasons, I can't say exactly where these large-scale diggings were.
Mr Fithen concluded from the aerial survey that more mining activity was taking place in Liberia than during his last over-flight three months ago. He estimated that Liberia was now producing over four hundred thousand US dollars worth of diamonds per month. Although it's almost impossible to say how many diamonds may be being exported from Liberia, industry sources say it is most unlikely that mining companies would invest in expensive mines unless they intended to sell the stones.
Mark Doyle, Liberia
the jungle canopy
in violation of